This article was originally posted on 9/11/16.

September 11, 2001 holds a special place in our hearts and memories. This date brings about unique emotions and memories for each individual. Many of us remember exactly where we were and what we were doing. Some of us may personally know a family directly affected or even a person who lost their life on this day. The younger generation reflects and learns about 9/11 through the stories of those who witnessed the day that changed our nation.

From this heartbreaking tragedy, there has been an indescribable unifying of forces -- especially first responders. While it has always been a brotherhood and sisterhood, it seems the bonds between fellow officers, firefighters, soldiers, and so on are stronger than ever. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling a first responder feels when thinking about 9/11. There is a unity and bond that is shared in their remembrance of the fallen heroes and the acts of bravery that took place. You can see it in their faces and expressions as they remember and honor their comrades.  
As restoration professionals, we can relate to each other’s feelings and memories, unifying us as an industry. We deal with disaster and tragedy every day. We empathize with those we serve. We work with first responders in our world. Many first responders even found their career path leading them to the restoration industry.   
Just before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, I was gifted with an experience that made me realize that now more than ever we must stand united not just as an industry or a group but as a nation. I felt compelled to share that experience with you in this month's column in hopes you could perhaps relate -- and to also remind us, as restorers, that after the dust settles and emergency first responders clear -- it's our turn to respond to the call for help. 
My daughter just turned 16. For this special birthday, instead of a party, she asked to go to New York City with the family. She had a vision of a great weekend that included many NYC adventures, a picnic in Central Park, and a visit to 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Our youngest son is 6 years old. We did not take the time to think about how he would process the visit to Ground Zero. We did not think through the impact, the explanations he would expect or even whether it was appropriate for him to go. So when we visited the museum and memorial, I took a moment to try to view it through the eyes of our son. Our visit had a profound impact on each of us as individuals, as a family, and we had to explain to our son why and how this happened in our world.
He saw all the “mommies and daddies that were killed.”
He asked, “How many children died.” 
Then, we got to the “bad guys." He could not find peace in the fact that the people who did this were dead; you could see and sense the fear in him. He did not understand how they committed this horrific act without care of their own lives. He could not understand the force that could compel other human beings to do what they had done.     
We talked it through with him and affirmed all of his feelings and did our best to explain the importance of protecting each other and standing united in in the face of evil. We explained that we were all feeling “sad,” that it is okay to feel that way and that we will never forget the lives of all the “good people” who were killed.  
That evening, at home in Pennsylvania, we were going to bed and he looked up at me and said, “Mommy – I can’t stop thinking about the planes flying into the buildings.”
Together, we must consider what we tell our children and how to help them feel safe and secure. While on a totally different scale, you must comfort your clients in a similar way after a tragedy strikes their family. They are often in shock and disbelief -- tragedy is a hard thing to grasp. It is so easy for us -- just as it is for emergency first responders -- to become somewhat desensitized to what we see and do every day. Remember part of your job as a restorer is to be compassionate and to care for your clients -- you cannot just go through the motions. That is what will separate you from your competition. A little kindness and compassion goes a long, long way.